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Four years ago, FTCC welcomed its Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology Program to campus. Students learn how to make cosmetic repairs on plastics, composites and more while also receiving training on multiple welding techniques. Students earn multiple I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) certifications and secure jobs in the auto repair industry. They build their craft in our 23,000-square-foot shop in the Military Business Park off Santa Fe Drive and in the classroom.

This week, we’re sharing Q&A’s with students who were part of the first graduating class in 2016. Meet Matthias Rappe. His knack for cars began in high school and earned him more. In June 2016, he earned a silver medal in the Collision Repair Technology event at the 52nd SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Age: 21
Hometown: Fayetteville
High School: Fayetteville Christian School
Job: AutoBody Technician at Classic Collision in Atlanta

What type of vehicle repair situations do you handle?
Most are insurance claims, tree damage and some are customer paid when they want something done to their car. This company has been great to work for.

Unlike your classmate Jordan West when he first started, you’ve always had an interest in cars.
When I was a freshman in high school, my brothers and I wanted to get a project car. We bought a 1965 Thunderbird and worked on it through high school. It was something I really enjoyed, and I wanted to educate myself on restoring a classic car.

I purchased a vehicle, a 1965 Mustang, my first year in the program, and I’m still working on it. My family has owned a few Mustangs in the past.

Matthias Rappe, who graduated from FTCC’s Collision U program, works on a vehicle at Classic Collision in Atlanta, where he works. (Submitted Photo)

Why did you enroll in Collision U?
So, I went to FTCC and signed up for their old collision repair program and I ended up switching to Collision U. I didn’t know what to expect because it was so new. I hadn’t gone through a course like that before, no formal training in any of the trades. My interest really grew in the industry and the former director, Paul Gage, was really helpful in helping students see their potential by bringing in different companies and faces from the industry.

Did you expect to find a job so soon after you graduated? A lot of college graduates worry about the fluctuating market.
I did expect to jump into the job market because all through the program, we had people visit. Collision repair is a high demand job. With any trade, good jobs are readily available. Before graduation, we got a lot of attention from the different companies who wanted to hire the graduates. We had 15 students in the first graduating class. We all were hired.

Does anything surprise you about your profession?
The amount of opportunities in the collision industry. I’m very grateful for Collision U’s ability to get the word out about that specific program. The size and direction of the program was something incredibly new that a lot of people haven’t seen.

What should people know about your career?
The collision industry is a fantastic job market, and if you really love working on cars and love continuously learning, it’s a great program to go through. Your progress after the program depends on your self-motivation, as is with anything.

The next Collision U class begins March 15. To learn more about this program, click here